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Video Game / Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2

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"History abhors a paradox".

"Thirty years hence, I am presented with a dilemma... let's call it a two-sided coin. If the coin falls one way, I sacrifice myself and thus restore the Pillars... but as the last surviving vampire in Nosgoth, this would mean the annihilation of our species... Moebius made sure of that. If the coin lands on the reverse, I refuse the sacrifice and thus doom the Pillars to an eternity of collapse. Either way, the game is rigged. [...] But suppose you throw a coin enough times — suppose one day, it lands on its edge..."

The third game in the Legacy of Kain series, developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos Interactive, and released in October 2001. Originally developed for the PlayStation and the Sega Dreamcast, it was reworked into a PlayStation 2 and PC title in early production.

The game is a direct sequel to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, and continues the adventures of Raziel, the protagonist of the previous game. Though Raziel initially seeks to exact revenge on Kain, his murderer and former master, this objective is superseded by a higher quest for knowledge about his own identity before he became a vampire. Traveling through history, he gradually exposes the truth behind the history of Nosgoth, the vampire race as a whole, and his own past and destiny.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 contains examples of the following tropes:

  • A Taste of Power: Of a sort. Raziel starts the game with a large health meter up until the scenes at William's crypt, upon which his maximum health will drop.
  • And Show It to You: Janos dies when Raziel's past self tears his heart clean out.
  • Bad Future: One of the eras Raziel visits. A hundred years after the events of Blood Omen, vampires have been rendered extinct barring Kain, and Nosgoth is overrun with demons and swamp mutants
  • Bag of Spilling: Largely averted. Raziel retains most of the abilities he gained in the previous game, except for the Constrict ability.
  • Broken Pedestal: Continuing from Soul Reaver, upon finding out that he was once a Sarafan priest, Raziel idolizes them and tries to live up to his heritage. This fades away throughout the game, as he discovers the humane side of the vampires and sees the Sarafan for the Knight Templars they truly were.
  • But Thou Must!: Interestingly done at the end of the game. In a fit of rage against the Sarafan he once idolized, Raziel takes up the physical Reaver, mixing it with the wraith blade he's been using since Kain broke the sword against him in the future, and uses it to butcher the Sarafan. If the player attempts to drop the weapon for more of a challenge, Raziel can't since his hand seems to unconsciously grip the Reaver tighter. You've got no choice but to use the Reaver right up until it turns on him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Janos Audron was mentioned in only two lines in the original Blood Omen. Here, he makes his first appearance.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Janos Audron is portrayed by the Sarafan and others as the ultimate evil of all vampires... but when Raziel finally meets him face to face, he is kindly-spoken, does not hate humanity despite their transgressions against him and is probably more honest with Raziel than anyone else has been thus far.
  • Deadpan Snarker: While he had his moments in the previous game, Raziel turns this into an art form here. This particular line when he meets Kain yet again is but one example.
    Raziel: Oh, no. Every time you show up, something monumental and terrible happens. I don't think I have the stomach for it.
    • It even gets to the point that the Elder God takes note of Raziel's newfound rebellious streak.
      Elder God: Moebius is my good servant. I have many.
      Raziel: And if I told Moebius that he's worshipping a giant squid, do you think his faith will falter?
      Elder God: You have grown willful, Raziel.
  • Deadly Upgrade: Early on, Raziel gains the ability to summon the Wraith Blade at will, but at a cost. It devours the souls of those it kills, preventing Raziel from eating them himself, and becomes stronger with each attack; if Raziel allows it to become over-aroused, the Wraith Blade will turn its hunger on Raziel himself.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Moebius says something to this effect to Raziel in the final act:
    Moebius: Poor deluded Raziel... did you somehow imagine you had the guile to change history on me? I'm the Time-Streamer – I knew your every intention before you did, you imbecile.
  • Double-Edged Buff: Raziel can manifest his spectral sword, the Soul Reaver, which increases the power of his attacks and grows more powerful with every blow landed. However, the sword and Raziel both hunger for the souls of those they kill and using the sword to kill someone will destroy their soul and prevent Raziel from feeding on them. Also, if Raziel uses it too aggressively, it will become strong enough to turn its hunger on him, stealing a portion of his lifeforce.
  • Eldritch Abomination: We finally get to see the Elder God in person here and it's an appropriately Cthulhu-esque tentacle mass.
  • Elemental Powers: Raziel can imbue the Reaver with darkness, light, air, and fire.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While Raziel starts out the game cherishing his humanity and believing vampirism is a plague, he's nonetheless disgusted with the brutality of Moebius' soldiers.
    Raziel: In this era, vampires were clearly not the uncontested predators we had been... these creatures were hunted mercilessly, and oppressed. And while I still believed that vampirism was a plague, and had to be wiped out, there was nothing noble or righteous in this crusade – this was simply ruthless persecution.
  • Evil All Along: Moebius is revealed as such in this game; he was a devious Chessmaster and Manipulative Bastard long before being afflicted by Nupraptor's insanity.
  • Great Offscreen War: Raziel learns of one throughout the game between two races; one created the Pillars to banish their adversaries (who we'll later learn to be the Hylden,) and they retaliated with a curse that transformed them into Nosgoth's first vampires.
  • Heads, Tails, Edge: Kain likens his Sadistic Choice at the end of Blood Omen to a two-sided coin, one that's rigged; neither side would properly solve anything. He seeks to get the coin to "land on its edge," this presenting him with a third option.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Discussed between Raziel and Janos during the game's final act.
    Raziel: Mankind seems to have brought you only torment and grief. You must hate them.
    Janos: They fear what they don't understand; and they despise what they fear. But no — I do not hate them.
    Raziel: Vorador does.
    Janos: He has suffered much. He cannot forgive them.
    Raziel: Should they be forgiven?
    Janos: They don't understand what they're doing. They are simply unenlightened... and vulnerable to manipulation.
  • I Hate Past Me: While Raziel initially aspires to his past life as a Sarafan knight, by the time he discovers the true nature of the Sarafan, he is utterly disgusted and renounces his human self.
  • Immediate Sequel: The game picks up right where the first game's Sequel Hook ended, with Raziel having time traveled after following Kain through the Chronoplast, and being approached by Moebius. It's to the point that the opening cinematic is a dramatization of the final scenes of the first game, complete with an abridged version of Kain's speech.
  • Informed Attribute: Because the opening adapts the final fight of the previous game, Kain still says "you nearly had me, Raziel." This is after a cutscene where he all but threw the wraith around like a ragdoll, compared to the original fight having Raziel chase him around violently with the Reaver as Kain kept teleporting away to activate the Chronoplast amidst his speech as if he really was in danger.
  • "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal: Kain pulls this off when Raziel confronts him at the Pillars.
    Raziel: Moebius led me to you, Kain – though I might have guessed you'd meet me here.
    Kain: And if Moebius told you I was hidden on the underside of hell, would you throw yourself into oblivion to pursue me?
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Near the end of the game, Raziel makes his way through Janos' aerie in order to speak with him and get answers. Sadly, in doing so, he opens a path for the Sarafan to get to Janos and kill him.
    • Insofar as Kain can be considered a "hero," he delays removing the Reaver from Raziel's chest until a certain moment has passed, causing yet another paradox. However, new memories blossoming in his head lead him to realize that he and Raziel just blundered into the Hylden's trap.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Raziel has an absolutely biting one for poor Ariel when he sees her ghost again.
    Ariel: You are a subtle, deceitful creature. But your clever arguments do not absolve Kain. He must die for the Pillars to be restored; there is no other way.
    Raziel: Then consider this more ominous possibility: what if Kain's death does not restore the Pillars? Consider that it may simply be too late. That this world may be beyond redemption, and that you may be bound here eternally.
    (Ariel escapes into the Spectral Realm only for Raziel to easily follow)
    Ariel: Why do you hound me, demon?! You can see that I am captive here! Show me some mercy!
    Raziel: Like the mercy you showed your fellow Guardians when you set Kain on them? Or the mercy you showed Kain when you kept him ignorant of his destiny while you used him as the scourge of the Circle? Or perhaps like the mercy you showed your beloved Nupraptor when you made him Kain's first kill?
    Ariel: You are cruel! Why do you torment me?!
    Raziel: I am merely looking for answers, Ariel. Very well — I'll leave you in peace. But know this — about you, and this purgatory from which you long to escape... you're merely at the threshold.
  • Revision:
    • In the original Blood Omen, it's hinted that Malek failed to reach the Circle of Nine in time during Vorador's attack because he was busy carousing. Here, it's revealed that he was helping Moebius detain Raziel and wanted to rush off to help them right away, but Moebius refused to let him do so until Raziel took up the physical Reaver; by then, he was too late.
    • In regards to Vorador's attack on the Circle, it was initially stated that said attack was motivated by Vorador's outrage at the slaughter of his race, and the Circle's support of the Sarafan's crusades. Here, he's given another motive: the death of his sire, Janos Audron.
    • The game expands upon how Kain was able to kill William the Just and rewrite history despite making it clear in this game that history is supposed to be immutable. As it turns out, Moebius ensured that both Kain and William were armed with different incarnations of the Soul Reaver, which triggered a temporal distortion allowing for history's alteration.
    • This game also expands on how and why the Soul Reaver shattered against Raziel during his and Kain's first confrontation in the previous game: the soul-devouring entity trapped within the physical Reaver is in fact Raziel himself; the blade shattered against him because the Reaver couldn't devour itself.
  • Screw Destiny: Raziel's considerable ability to defy the destiny that higher beings attempt to write for him makes him a desirable pawn for Kain... and a potentially unreliable instrument to others. The most notable instance of which is in William's crypt, where instead of killing Kain with the physical Reaver as history dictated, Raziel sways his aim at the last moment, sparing Kain.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Everything Kain does throughout the game is geared towards altering the outcome of his original decision at the Pillars, ensuring that both the Pillars and the vampires can co-exist.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Early on, Raziel confronts Kain at the Pillars of Nosgoth, declaring that he's after him to restore balance to Nosgoth. Kain soon gets annoyed and gives Raziel one of these, knowing that Raziel is after him for revenge and nothing more.
    Raziel: Shall I show you the same mercy you showed the rest of the Circle, then? You blithely murdered them to restore their Pillars, yet your hand faltered when it came to the final sacrifice. What makes you exempt, Kain? You're merely the last man standing. Why condemn me for simply carrying out what you hadn't the courage to do yourself?
    Kain: Let's drop the moral posturing, shall we? We both know there's no altruism in this pursuit. Your reckless indignation led you here — I counted on it! There's no shame in it, Raziel. Revenge is motivation enough; at least it's honest. Hate me, but do it honestly.
  • Snow Means Death: The final era Raziel visits is in the midst of winter. Fittingly, this is the time and place where the Sarafan succeed in killing Janos.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: By way of paradox, the soul-thirsty frenzied entity within the Soul Reaver that Raziel is wielding is... Raziel himself.
  • Vampire Vords: Janos is the only vampire in the series to follow this trope, in comparison to the cut-glass English accents used by the other vampires in the series before and since.
  • Wham Line:
    • At the end of the game, Kain, having helped Raziel pull off another paradox, goes from triumphant to horrified as new memories enter his mind, and he utters this:
      Kain: My god... the Hylden... we walked right into their trap... Raziel! Janos Audron must stay dead!
    • Raziel has one at the end as well, after killing his old Sarafan self only to have the physical Reaver turn upon him in a frenzy.
      Raziel: A foreboding sense of emptiness and loss stole over me... and a terrible revelation gathered like a storm at the edge of my awareness... With all other foes exhausted, the conjoined blades turned themselves on me. And I realized, finally, why I had sensed nothing when Janos offered me the blade. The Reaver was never forged to be a soul-stealing weapon... the ravenous, soul-devouring entity trapped in the blade was — and always had been... me.
    • When Moebius and Malek trap Raziel, the confrontation is briefly interrupted by the Circle of Nine yelling Malek's name. The catch is that this audio is reused from Blood Omen, establishing that these events were happening concurrently with Vorador's slaughter of the Circle.
  • Wham Shot: Raziel arrives seconds too late to stop the Sarafan from ripping out Janos's heart, but the one who actually does the deed? It's Raziel past human self.
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Sarafan Raziel does this to Wraith Raziel, bragging about how he killed Janos. It doesn't end well for him.
    Sarafan Raziel: Let's finish this. I'll make it mercifully quick.
    Raziel: As you did for Janos?
    Sarafan Raziel: [laughs] No, that beast had eluded us for far too long. It would have been a shame to end him too quickly. It's ironic, really — the "great" Janos Audron turned out to be no challenge at all... thanks to you. Did you hear his cowardly screams when I tore that black heart out of his carcass?
  • You Already Changed the Past: A key plot point, which Kain makes clear to Raziel early on. The map of each individual's destiny was fully outlined and immutable, accommodating for time travel events and preventing contradictions. According to Kain, the sole exception is when two different incarnations of the Soul Reaver meet in time and space; such a meeting enables temporal paradoxes to be triggered, altering history for better or worse.


Video Example(s):


Soul Reaver 2

Compelled by history to slay Kain while in the past, Raziel barely manages to resist its pull, much to Kain's relief. (Subtitles provided by Ugly93 on YouTube)

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